Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Officially a First Grader

As of last Monday KJ is officially a first grader.

I’m pretty sure you heard the news. After all, it was the first thing KJ told everyone he saw that day. It was also what he was shouting from the top level of our brand-new play set. And what he was chanting repeatedly as he went potty and washed his hands. And singing as he swung on the swings. And, it was what the super-awesome, I-forgot-I-had-bought-it- tye-died t-shirt he wore home from school read in big letters across his chest: Officially a first grader.

To say I’m proud of what KJ has accomplished this year is an understatement. KJ has learned and grown so much this year. He went from a safe environment where he had known every kid and teacher almost since birth to a brand-new school where he knew exactly 1 kid. As we stood outside the school that first day watching the other kids who knew each other from preschool or sports teams or whatever I was nervous for Kevin. I was nervous because he seemed to be the only kid who didn’t know anyone. I was nervous because I know transitions can be hard for him. Nervous because everything in his life was changing so fast (just a few days before school started we welcomed Snuggle Bug into our family). I was nervous it was all too much for a little guy who had just turned five.

But I didn’t need to be. Like he always does, KJ took all of the changes in stride. He welcomed Snuggle Bug into our family with an open heart. There isn’t anything KJ wouldn’t do for Snuggle Bug, and I have honestly never seen him act anything other than completely lovingly toward her. Where he could have been jealous, he was the epitome of love. I’m such a lucky mom.

At the same time, he adjusted to school. Despite new teachers, new rules and all new friends, KJ made it work. I know it was tough on him. KJ is a quiet kid. It isn’t easy for him to open up or try new things. School must have been terrifying. But he never talked about how hard it was. And in the course of this year, he’s gone from sitting by the guard during recess with his hands over his ears (he thought the playground was too loud), to playing full-on Skylanders with a bunch of boys, not even noticing his daddy watching him from the school parking lot.

He also conquered the bus. Bus riding in our district is no easy thing. The private school kids take the bus with the public school attending junior-high aged kids. This creates a bunch of worry for both KJ and Mom. Mom worried about what KJ would learn from the big kids on the bus. KJ worried about looking different (he wore a uniform, the public school kids did not), remembering his backpack and getting off at the right stop. And that was just on the days it wasn’t raining. Throw in an umbrella and some lightening and the bus was really scary! But he made it. Between a fellow kindergartener who took the bus with him part of the week and two extremely kind junior high girls, KJ conquered the bus.

And none of that even brushes on what he’s learned in the last year. I am amazed everything he has learned. He’s gone from knowing the alphabet and basic phonics to full-on reading. He recites Bible stories and prayers. He can add. He can subtract. He even kept a journal with complete sentences and punctuation. To think he learned all of this in a year is nothing short of amazing.

When the school year started in August, I was not excited for it. I was sure school would ruin my little boy.  And to some extent, I was right.  KJ is not the same little boy he was the day I first dropped him off.  His world is so much bigger now, and he has learned so much.  He’s learned things that have made my heart swell with excitement and pride for him.  And he’s learned some tough lessons about life that hurt my heart.  But in the end, all of his experiences have made him who he is -  an amazing, smart,  funny, caring boy.  I’m so glad I got to be a part of it.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013


My life has been crazy lately. 

Between work, my husband's crazy night working schedule, and my kids insane activity schedule - I am constantly on the go. Most nights I go from the law office, to the dance studio, to the baseball field. By the time we get home we are running around cooking dinner, getting clean, and getting to bed at a somewhat decent hour.  

Yet even with this busy schedule - I am finding myself experiencing a strange feeling....laziness. 

I know that is probably the last word you expected to hear me say, but yes I feel completely lazy. 

I have always prided myself with being a fun Mom. My husband, kids, and I used to spend our evenings and weekends playing and having fun adventures. Now, it seems like we are living...but not living. It's like my plate is full of veggies, and the health food I need to eat, but I have no room for dessert. Get my point? 

And it's getting bad. I mean this year is so busy we don't even have a family vacation planned this summer. Reality is simply taking all the fun out of our lives. 

After I put my kids to bed at night I sit down to wind down and think "Wow, that day was a blur...I never got to play with the kids, did I say "hurry up" more than "I love you"? Man I wish I would have sat down for 5 minutes and just played dolls with J, and why didn't I just pitch H some baseballs in the front yard? Did I seriously just tell L we didn't have enough time to read his favorite book again? 

And then comes another feeling...guilt. And of course it doesn't help that Facebook is full of those postcards that say things like "Don't blink your kids will grow up" or pictures of someone graduating with a comment under it that says "Wow, where did the years go?". 

I'm in a reality rut. I need to stop being the Mommy that carts the kids around, the wife that is always tired, the friend that has no time to text or send an email. I want to get back to...well me. 

So my mission this summer is to give myself my own intervention. I know life is busy, but that is no reason why we can't still make time for the real important things in life. 

Often with interventions there is a 12 step program - so here is my 12 step program to getting my family back on track to remembering what is important. My summer bucket list so to speak: 

1. Take walks as a family 
2. Go camping 
3. Visit our favorite beach spot - Grand Haven, Michigan and run in the sand with the kids. 
4. Eat at the kitchen table - picnic at the park - BBQ with my extended family. 
5. Finally go to the drive in theater I have been saying I'm going to visit for years 
6. Plan a family slumber party 
7. Lay under the stars with my kids 
8. Declare a technology free week - no facebook, no internet, no ipad, no phones. 
9. Road trip - even if we don't have a destination 
10. Swing with my kids on our favorite swing down by the river 
11. Play catch with my son, dance with my daughter, race cars with my son ( A LOT) 
12. Run through the spray park -- yes me too. 

I'm determined to make this summer the best it can be. We are only going to get busier, we are always going to be stressed out. It's time to remember what is really important before I'm posting my own "Where did the time go?" under a picture of L at his graduation party. Let's do this!!!


Friday, June 7, 2013

The Double Double Standard

As you all may know, I sell Thirty-One Gifts.  I have tons of it in my house and have bought my kids numerous things.  The products tend to run a little "girly" so H has gotten way more of it through the months than B. Yesterday, B, who is now 10, said he wanted a tote. I had a special to use, so I said "Sure! Come look and pick the one you want." These totes come in all different colors, and I was expecting him to choose red, or black or camo.  He chooses the Pink Pop Medallion.  I seriously thought he was joking, but he wasn't. He really wanted it and when I said "but it's pink!" he said "real men like pink".  I told him to pick something else...his second choice? Party Punch -another undeniably feminine pattern.  I was about to refuse. Then I thought...
What if this were my daughter and she wanted to pick camo or black? I wouldn't think twice and if anyone told her she couldn't have those because she was a girl I would have told them to stuff it - probably not so politely.  I have always been a strong advocate for my daughter that she can do what she wants, wear what she wants, whatever makes her feel comfortable and confident...she's never been a "girly girl" so that is a battle she and I have been waging a long time.
But B...not so much.  He wears what I buy him and other than mismatched socks (which have now apparently become the fashion) his "self-representation" has been fairly standard. When H got a blanket with a flower on it, he got one with a baseball.... no fuss, there. As I pondered his choice of totes, I realized that to my utter dismay I did not want my son to pick a "girly" pattern - I really wanted him to pick something more masculine.  Why was it my instinct that H can be/do/choose whatever she wants, but B should be/do/choose "boy" things? Because I'm afraid he would be picked on...I was going to pick on him about it---I kind of DID, without even realizing it - "You want WHAT?!"
So why the double standard, I'm wondering? Why are these things so deeply ingrained in us that, unconsciously, we make assumptions and judgments based on gender alone? and it's no wonder that things in this country, like civil rights for all, move so darn slowly.  I have spent all of my adult life opposing "norms" that diminish and make one person "less" than another - and I will go toe to toe with anyone about racism, gay rights and women's rights...but have my son choose something Pink?! I had to actually stop myself and think - "if this is what he wants, why can't he have it?" and "For goodness' sake, your his Mother - be supportive!"...He got Party Punch.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Now, while I love musical/musical theater, this post is not about the musical Hair. Nope, this post is somewhat boring and dull…just about hair (you know, the kind on your head?). And currently, that’s what my hair is – boring and dull. But let’s not talk about me.

As a mom of twin girls, hair is a hairy situation (hardee har har). My daughters have shoulder length beautiful blonde hair with reddish streaks (probably described as a strawberry blonde by most people). But it is horrible to take care of.  It is thin and there is not much of it.  Unless I start brushing out the tangles.  And then you would think B is Rapunzel. 

Now, I guess you could say I have somewhat tomboy-ish/athletic/non-girly girls. Although, I am not sure this is completely an accurate description, as they won’t wear jeans and B loves purple! But we are at the soccer/softball fields all spring…which means a ponytail. Which means whining!!  I am not talking about french braids or anything fancy.  I am talking about a simple ponytail.  Just so they can see the ball.  Is that really that horrible?

For girls that are very particular about what they wear (whether it be a fancy dress or Adidas shorts), they could care less about how their hair looks. They only care when their bangs get too long and they get tired of brushing them out of their faces. One soccer practice, Grandma forgot ponytails…what a mess!

Even if A & B grudgingly let me put their hair up, it never looks right. I am always missing a strand or there is a bump where it should be smooth. Plus, after a tough game, the pony tail looks like it went through a wind storm. And the tangles…

So, does anyone have any hair tips for me? With swimming season fast approaching, any advice would be appreciated. I think I have tried about every hair care product (Wen Hair, It’s a Ten spray, Suave detangler) and all kinds of pony tail holders. Any cute hair ideas (besides just cutting it off)?

Thanks for your help!

Jean Anne